Monday, June 29, 2009

Sixties Superstars Prove to Be Dynamic Duo

I just finished watching the recently released double DVD set of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood Live at Madison Square Garden in February 2008.

It left me with a couple of strong impressions. First, just how good Steve Winwood is. He started out as a 14-year-old R&B prodigy in the mid 1960s and has been a consummate musician ever since – even if he doesn’t quite have the stellar catalog of composition that some of his peers can claim (that’s not to say he hasn’t written some great music though). This DVD is a potent reminder of his musical power and charisma as a performer – especially in light of the fact that he has maintained a low profile for the last few decades.

Besides his obvious notable soulful singing and organ playing, Winwood proves himself a very capable sparring partner for Clapton on the six-string, too. There’s some impressive interplay between the two guitarists on “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and several other songs. Then, of course, there’s Winwood’s deliverance of “Georgia On My Mind” – presented with such inspired perfection that it must have Brother Ray smiling somewhere.

The second is with regard to Clapton. As a guitar player who appreciates blues and old-school rock (as well as more modern stuff), I can’t overestimate Clapton’s abilities and influence. But we have to admit that Eric has, for the most part, been on cruise control for years – interrupted only intermittently by inspired flashes of brilliance. While his style is firmly established and admirable, his playing is often not particularly exciting, challenging or innovative. On this release, however, it’s obvious that the pairing with his old Blind Faith crony has added some serious spark to ol’ Slowhand’s playing – even more, I would say, than 2005’s Cream reunion gigs (which I was fortunate to see in person at MSG).

This is most evident on the duo’s renditions of songs outside of Clapton’s usual repertoire: Traffic classics such as “Pearly Queen” and “Glad,” Blind Faith standards such as “Can’t Find My Way Home” and Buddy Holly’s “Well Alright,” as well as reworked versions of “Little Wing” and “Tell the Truth.”

Clapton really steps out of his comfort zone in tackling the Jimi Hendrix epic “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” a prospect that he admits is quite daunting during one of the many between song interview snippets. I can’t say that it surpasses Stevie Ray Vaughan’s renowned rendition of the tune, but this Winwood/Clapton version is less emulation and more interpretation. Yes, it does sound like Hendrix presented through Clapton’s trademark Buddy Guy/Freddie King/Albert King filter, but it is different enough from EC’s usual undertakings to be both interesting and successful. (Side Note: Winwood played organ on Jimi’s original recording, and he handles most of the lead vocal in the duo’s version).

The interviews with Clapton and Winwood are also very interesting and enlightening. Both men are articulate and thoughtful in recalling the evolution of their relationship and musical careers – including the obstacles, missteps and insecurities, as well as the motivations and triumphs.

Overall, this DVD is certainly worth a NetFlix viewing at the very least.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Sounds of the Sea ... Sort of

The amazing sea organ on the shores of Croatia. Click the link for the audio sample. Sounds a bit like William Orbit or some of Bill Nelson’s instrumental stuff. Wonder what the whales make of this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Little-Known New Pop Gem

One of the most enjoyable new CDs I’ve been listening to this spring is Nightjar, the latest release from Marty Willson-Piper of the Australian rock band The Church. It may be one of the best CDs to come along in a while that very few people are likely to hear. It’s a shame really, because this CD’s 10 tunes are finely crafted, multi-dimensioned pop artisanship that anyone with good taste in music could find pleasure in.

Despite a near three-decades-long career and dozens of records released under various guises (solo and with The Church, All About Eve, Noctorum, The Saints, et al), MWP – unlike better-known-but-lesser artists – does not have a powerful record conglomerate promoting his work. Unless you’re already familiar with this accomplished intercontinental musician and make an effort to seek out his work, you’re not likely to know what he has been up to.

Nightjar is MWP’s sixth solo release (not counting several live CDs) and may well be his best since Art Attack, his best-selling 1988 solo release. Nightjar harkens back to Art Attack in both its cast of characters (pal Dare Mason once again plays a prominent role as producer and pianist) and its similarly effervescent feel. Both albums share an organic acoustic foundation, sophisticatedly colored with piano, electric guitar and other instrumental embellishments, and matched with MWP’s distinctive, crisply annunciated vocals.

Nightjar is particularly lush in its instrumentation – not that there are lots of instruments piled on, but what is there makes for beautifully rich sounds. The multi-layered acoustic guitars are supported at various points by cello and violin (at times melancholy, at others buoyant), crisp piano, and even accordian, flute (actually, bamboo whistle according to the liner notes), trumpet and trombone. Harmony vocals (male and female) are especially evocative and effective in the overall sound. Yet most of the songs retain an uncomplicated, almost stripped down, sound. As much as The Church’s music of the last two decades has been dense with overlaid guitars and atmospheric effects, Nightjar comes across as clean and airy.

Lyrically the CD is rich and literate – as one familiar with MWP’s work and worldly views would expect, but this one is perhaps even more so. A range of themes – love, loss, quests, fear, imagination, contradictions, history and the future – make for mature, thoughtful and often romantic songs that will appeal to both rockers (well, Pink Floyd fans, at least) as well as fans of folk and classic pop music.

The entire CD is enjoyable listening, but my favorite tracks are, first and foremost, the brightly shimmering pop of “High Down Below,” with its snatches of electric guitar and baroque sounding choruses that circle back to jangly guitar pop. (I’m really not much of a fan of most pop music, but this is really good pop music!)

“Lullabye for the Lonely” is another standout pop song with a truly captivating hook. Meanwhile, “Feed Your Mind” starts with a recitative vocal approach and pointed strums of guitar that give way to a jaunty upbeat tune (it’s one of the most literate songs on a very literate album). Then there’s “I Must’ve Fallen,” a piano-driven romantic ballad with haunting cello and violin flourishes and effective male-female duets on the choruses.

Lest the pop overwhelm everything, there are momentary prolapses into Floydian electric guitar, most notably on “The Sniper” and “No One There” (the most Church-like song on the CD) – ensuring that Nightjar is not devoid of rock references. The CD closes with “A Game for Losers,” on which trumpet embellishments complement prominent accordian, giving the song a South American/gypsy feel like something off of Dylan’s latest release (Together Through Life) – only with better singing!

There is real drama – both lyrically and musically – in the all of the songs on Nightjar. It’s exuberant and romantic music that manages to be both crisp sounding and atmospheric. Strong hooks abound, while the words are well-crafted and effectively sung. This is timeless pop music – or perhaps, pop music for all time. I’ll be listening to it for a long time, I’m sure. Seek it out. You’ll be glad you did.


• I recommend also checking out Art Attack (1988) and Spirit Level (1992).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

10 Books

Per the common Facebook note and the typical instructions: Ten books you've read that will always stick with you. First 10 you can recall in no more than 10 minutes. Don't take too long to think about it. Here are mine (in no particular order):

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 
The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso) by Dante Alighieri
Time and the Art of Living by Robert Grudin
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Carl Jung
Candide by Voltaire

It strikes me that there are no female authors on here (hmmm ...), but for an 11th, I'd probably add
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. For the record, I'm also hard-pressed to not include Life Is Elsewhere by Milan Kundera; The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kozinski; and The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham. I resist opening the Shakespeare can of worms.

Bucking Trends

Interesting brief take on the unique successes of two of my favorite brands: Apple and The Economist. You have to admire brands (and businesses) that can defy convention and still be successful.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TV to Go Way of Newspapers?

As a former history major, it is inconceivable to me how inept today’s media companies seem to be in learning the lessons of history – even very recent history. While no one has a crystal ball as to how the current sea change in the media business is going to eventually end up, there are a number of factors at play that are fairly predictable. We’ve already learned some lessons of what not to do from the newspaper industry’s paralysis in the face of changing technological opportunities and consumer behavior, yet the major TV companies seem to remain in denial about what is happening, as outlined in this recent column from Advertising Age.

A Perfect Match

Each month, Wired magazine has an interesting column dissecting the complex contents of some common household item. A couple of  months ago, there was an interesting lab analysis of the closely guarded ingredients in WD-40 (“The Superlube’s Secret Sauce”). In July’s issue, they put Diamond Strike-Anywhere Matches under the microscope. I know this sounds rather esoteric and geeky (it is Wired, after all), but these concise columns are, in fact, very interesting. I always find myself, saying, “Wow! Who knew?” after reading them. In the case of the matches, I bet you never knew how much went into making a simple stick burn ... in a very specific way. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dead Funny

I happened to be in the car for a few minutes this weekend. It was just short enough to not merit bothering to put a CD on, so instead I was listening to public radio, which at the time happened to be broadcasting Garrison Keillor’s  Prairie Home Companion. I was tuned in just long enough to hear a funny little musical ditty on “The Sunday New York Times” (click on the “Segment 2” link for the audio) – presented, of course, in the context that if you’re going to write a song about newspapers, you’d better do it soon (while some still exist). Not only is the lyrical wordplay funny (in all-too-much of a self-identifying kind of way for me), but the musical representations of the various sections of the paper are priceless.

Speaking of prices and The New York Times or, by extension, its poor (very poor) stepchild, The Boston Globe, I was taken aback today when I received a notice from the Globe informing me that our monthly home delivery prices are being increased by 64%. Now, I’m well aware that newspaper companies are in serious need of retooling their economic model. And, as a dedicated reader, I’m even willing (reluctantly) to foot more of the bill (if they can at least maintain, if not improve the quality of their offerings). But this is a very sizable jump for a publication that has been getting noticeably thinner and lost some of their better writers over the last year or two. Newspaper lovers that we are, this still has my wife and I seriously wondering whether we should continue our subscription, which we’ve had for close to two decades. 

One has to wonder, if the magnitude of this increase has newspaper diehards like us thinking twice about calling it a quits, what does that mean for the majority of subscribers? Sounds like a shot to the foot to me.  


Saturday, June 13, 2009

One for Yeats ... and the Girls

In recognition of the anniversary of William Butler Yeats’ birthday (June 13, 1865), as well as the fact that my two daughters also have birthdays around this time of year, I thought I’d share the poet’s June 1919 poem, “A Prayer for My Daughter.” It’s not one of his most famous poetic works, but it’s certainly a thoughtful and heartfelt one.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Neil Young: Never Denied

I watched the new Neil Young BBC Video/American Masters documentary, Don’t Be Denied, on PBS the other night. I was quite impressed. It’s a concise (55 min.), accurate and informative overview of Neil’s lengthy and prolific career. Revelatory reminiscences and explanations from Neil himself are nicely interspersed with archival footage and compelling commentary from collaborators such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Nils Lofgren and James Taylor among others.

The film does not cover every one of Neil’s 52 albums, but it touches upon most of the key releases and transition points (of which there have been many) in his four-plus decades as an artist. I do think it could’ve gone into a bit more detail on Neil’s repeated dabblings in country music throughout his career (and the related two-decade long involvement with Farm Aid) as well as his emergence as the influential “godfather of grunge” in the early 1990s. But that certainly would have necessitated more air time.

I have all of Neil’s official albums and videos, plus lots of live recordings. I’ve seen him in concert a few times and have read a lot of articles and a few books about his career and work. So, suffice to say, I know a fair amount about him – his personal quirks and his artistic qualities. Yet, there were still new things revealed to me in this documentary. Standout examples being Lofgren’s comments about the dark and controversial Tonight’s the Night album (1975) and the revelation that the song “Revolution Blues” on Neil’s On the Beach album (1974) was about Charles Manson – and that Neil actually knew Manson.

I assume the airing of this documentary was timed to coincide with the recent release of Neil’s long-awaited mega-anthology, Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972) – which perhaps I’ll write about at some other time – but since PBS tends to repeat its broadcasts several times throughout the month (and again during peak fundraising season), there will probably be further chances to catch this American Masters episode. If you like Neil’s music, or are just kind of curious, check it out. It’s worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Palatable (and Workable) Model?

I don’t want to pay for content that I’ve been used to getting for free on the web any more than the next person does. But, I also do not want to see a wide variety of high quality news sources disappear all together because there’s no longer a business model that will support them.

It’s not too hyperbolic to ask, “What will all the exploiters of free content on the Web – from HuffPo to every Tom, Dick and Harry blogger – do when there’s no more New York Times, Reuters, Esquire, etc. from which to pilfer, react and sometimes expand? Where will that leave us would-be informed consumers?” Since it seems that advertising alone is no longer able to support quality journalism enterprises (whether print or digital), a new business model must be found. And, one way or another, something’s got to give.

A model such as the one outlined in this recent Newsosaur blog post may represent one of the more promising solutions – or at least the genesis of a sensible online monetizing system that would be palatable to consumers. It is by Alan Mutter, a former journalist and serial CEO in Silicon Valley who teaches a course called “Journalism in the Age of Disruption” (love that title!) at U. Cal. - Berkeley. Mutter was one of a select few presenters at a semi-secret meeting of the heads of many of the nation’s leading newspaper publishers that was convened in Chicago on May 28. In his post, Mutter outlines a system called ViewPass, an approach publishers could use to monetize online content without creating too much of a logistical impediment to users. He also briefly addresses related copyright protection issues. It’s obviously something that he believes in, as he has a vested interest in the project. (There are some good reader comments on his post, too.)

To me, ViewPass seems to be yet another variation on what can loosely be described as the Cable TV subscription model (or now, in Mutter’s analogy, the credit card system) that some of the more forward-thinking “state of the media industry” pundits have advocated in recent months. Such a model would enable customers to select a personal menu of sources to which they would get full access (and, ideally, other meaningful benefits, too) and for which they would pay one reasonable monthly fee. Ads would still help support the costs of the enterprise, but not to the extent of being so overwhelming that they devalue the user experience. In fact, under such a system ads could be much more targeted to the user’s interests – so theoretically less of an annoyance.

I’m sure there are more nuances and details to be worked out on these approaches, but of the various options I’ve seen presented thus far, this is more appealing than the outright gated community, pay-as-you-go model of accessing content site by site. In the end, the money has to come from somewhere, and until there is some substantial benevolent outside source of funding discovered, we should be considering the least painful and most effective ways we would pay for good content.

Personally, if my favorite newspapers and magazines were no longer available in print and accessible only digitally with an associated fee system, I could comfortably transfer some of my current print subscription and newsstand payments in order to have online and mobile access to that content. I say “some” because if the publishers are achieving substantial savings in printing and distribution (i.e., trucking/mailing) costs, then I would expect to see some cost break, too.

There’s a long way to go until the final chapter of this saga is written, but the plot does seem to be coming together. We’ll see what twists and turns remain between here and the final page.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Sonic Swing Through West Africa

Saturday night the wife and I took a trip to West Africa via the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. OK, so it was only a metaphorical journey, but it was ably led by tour guides Amadou & Mariam. For those not familiar with these Malian music phenoms, the middle-aged, blind, husband-and-wife duo have, after a decades-long distinguished career, finally broken through big time in America this past year.

I’m no expert on West African or Malian music, but I have listened to a smattering of the genre over the years, and even beyond the obvious evolutionary connections to America’s southern blues roots, I have liked quite a bit of it: Ali Farka Touré, Tartit and Touareg musicians Tinariwen, as well as King Sunny Adé and others.

I’ve also read In Griot Time, former Boston writer Banning Eyre’s fascinating memoir of his six months studying guitar in Mali and getting to know most of the country’s leading musicians. Though Amadou & Mariam are only cited in the book’s appendix, In Griot Time is an enlightening and recommended read. It certainly gave me a better understanding of the context of Amadou & Mariam’s music. Nonetheless, you needn’t have read the book to enjoy this music.

Though I know there are significant differences between the music of Mali and other African music, such as the juju music of Nigeria popularized in the West by King Sunny Adé and the African Beats 20+ years ago (I was fortunate to have seen King Sunny play live back in the late 1980s), it does provide a foundational reference point to my ears. The rapid-fire, highly rhythmic guitar lines that Amadou Bagayoko lays down are occasionally reminiscent of King Sunny Adé. And, like Sunny, Amadou plays a Telecaster-style guitar, though his is seriously tricked out – at least cosmetically.

As with many African bands, there are quite a few people on stage with Amadou & Mariam: eight in this case. I was a little surprised by the racial mix of the backing musicians: a white drummer, bass player and keyboardist, with an African percussionist and background singers. The band was top notch – with everyone contributing notably to the overall sound and also being part of the constant motion machine (especially the two background singers who, if I heard – or rather interpreted – correctly, were sisters). They stick to the familiar instruments of rock fare – with the addition only of a funky cong-like drum or two – there’s no esoteric African stringed instruments like a kora or a ngoni.

The songs are sung primarily in Malian and French (still a principal language there, harkening back to the Colonial days), with just occasional snippets of English. Mariam Doumbia handles much of the singing, though Amadou also contributes a fair amount of vocals in addition to his distinctive guitar that works with the keyboards, drums and bass guitar to propel the music forward.

At the sold out Paradise show on Saturday. the music was energetic, joyously upbeat and fairly varied. It’s often referred to as Afro-blues, and while there were trace elements of blues and even rock, it drew from a broader palette than that term might suggest. The Parisian/Continental house flavorings lurked just beneath the surface and combined with the African rhythms to ensure the audience kept moving throughout.

At times, various tunes suggested shades of both trance and jam-band vibes and improvisation. I could also readily hear some passages suggestive of the Page/Plant projects of the mid 1990’s (probably more because those two have a long-held appreciation for the music of Morocco and Sub-Saharan West Africa than for their former band’s influence on the musicians of Mali, as had been recently suggested in some circles regarding Amadou & Mariam’s sound).

Perhaps more surprising, though, were the few points when I heard what struck me (again, in my frame of reference ) as mid-’80s-ish Simple Minds-like rhythms. This was probably due to the keyboard effects and standout drumming – both of which were notable characteristics of the Minds’ very European sound at their most original and inspired (i.e., not “Don’t You Forget About Me”).

Most of Saturday’s set list concentrated on the songs from Amadou & Mariam’s recent breakthrough CD Welcome to Mali. And, despite the language barrier (for some of us), the show featured several instances in which the lyrical content was clearly reflective of the love shared between the two leaders (most notably on “I Follow You,” one of the few English language tunes from the recent CD in which Amadou professes his unending love for Mariam). In a touching (literally) show of affection, Mariam gently caressed Amadou’s head while he was playing several times during the course of the evening. It was an endearing and genuine gesture.

If you like West African pop and you’re not familiar with these artists, check them out, I’m confident you’ll like them. Better yet, try to catch one of their performances, which take the sound from their well-produced and highly listenable CDs and cranks it up a few notches. If you’re not familiar with this genre of music, do yourself a favor, track some down. There’s something in it for everyone; whether you enjoy danceable popping rhythms, trance grooves, buoyant guitar playing or contemporary Afro-pop group singing with just enough Western connection to not sound off-puttingly foreign.

A Final Thought: It seems that over the last 20 years or so, every Caribbean island, cruise ship or summer-themed bar or restaurant in the Western hemisphere is compelled to play Bob Marley and other reggae (if they’ve even moved beyond Jimmy Buffet) to create a certain irie, island vibe. But DJ’s and entertainment programmers in these establishments could effectively spice up the sonic ambiance by incorporating the likes of Amadou & Mariam (as well as other Afro-pop standouts). It would fit the easy-going mood, while adding a little new energy and variety – and, in the process, perhaps even enlightening the curious few among the Spring Breakers and vacation set.

• One indication of their notable rising in popularity stateside in the past year was the duo’s being featured in Time magazine this past March.
Welcome to Mali, Amadou & Mariam, Nonesuch Records, 2009.
In Griot Time, by Banning Eyre, Temple University Press, 2000.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bruce All Righty

I’ve never been a big Bruce Springsteen fan. I do respect his songwriting and the passion and showmanship of his live performances, but his music never quite resonated with me. Some of this reaction is probably due to the fact that I grew up in the heart of Springsteen country (Central Jersey) and for a long time was inundated with all things Bruce – especially as his popularity soared in the late 1970s and 1980s. In much the same way that I found it hard to root for the home teams in sports (e.g., the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Rangers) – instead finding favorites in teams from Boston to San Francisco – I couldn’t come to be a fan of The Boss either.

But I’ve had an interesting revelation over the last week or so. I’ve been listening to a series of Bruce’s demos (home recordings really) and rehearsal tapes. Despite my tepid response to Springsteen’s catalog, I was intrigued enough to download these “Lost Masters” because most of them were recorded at his home in the small town that I grew up in while Bruce was living there in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Remember that early ’80s Rolling Stone magazine cover of Bruce ice skating? That picture was taken there).

What I’ve found most fascinating – besides a few undiscovered (by me at least) gems among the repeated “working takes” of a few dozen tunes – is hearing this master songcrafter do exactly what I have done since I was a teenager. That is, perch myself, guitar and pen in hand, in front of a small cassette recorder and painstakingly work through verse and chorus structures, intricacies of guitar parts, vocal phrasings, etc. – starting, stopping and restarting the recorder throughout – in an often futile effort to capture and develop the germ of a musical idea.

While, unlike Bruce, I clearly am not a master songwriter, I find some semblance of satisfaction – collegiality, almost – in the fact that even great artists start in the same place we all do: persistently struggling and sifting through the rough stones until a few are polished enough to merit placement in some more ornately crafted setting.

David Carr on Reporting & the Story of a Lifetime (His!)

I’m not sure whether I’ll find the time to read all of David Carr’s much acclaimed memoir “The Night of the Gun,” just out in paperback, but I did read the lengthy excerpt from it in the New York Times Magazine last summer and found it riveting. A harrowing story – the author’s own – masterfully told. This is an interesting Ad Age interview with Carr about the nature of reporting, the pursuit of truth and what he learned from his book project.

Media Owners: Good, Bad & Indifferent

Here’s a respected voice with a unique perspective on the various ownership options (solutions?) for the current newspaper industry quandary. Michael Kinsley was editor of Slate, The New Republic and Harper’s before becoming a Washington Post columnist. Check it out.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Magazine Queen’s Confessions ... and Predictions

I've never been a big fan of magazine queen Tina Brown (primarily for her role in the increasing “celebrification” of magazines in America over the past 25 years, which she now seems to regret to some degree), but this article from The Telegraph includes some interesting (and probably on the mark) comments from the former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor – particularly about the need to focus on finding a business model that will support good journalism in the future, as opposed to worrying about saving newspapers or magazines. It’s intriguing that she thinks this may take a whole generation to fully play out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From Readers to Users ... to Participants?

Further fodder re: yesterday’s post about the future of reading/writing (Not Dead Yet!):  This one is about The New York Times’ current evolving philosophy, from Ad Age

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Strike That

I just learned that there are 11 different kinds of lightning. Who knew? I think I've seen five. I wonder which one is most likely to strike me or you.  

Reading/Writing: Not Dead Yet!

There has been much talk of late about how publishing is dying and no one reads anymore. Clive Thompson’s article on “The Future of Reading” in this month’s Wired magazine paints a more hopeful picture – at least for publishers that can free themselves from our severely outdated publishing model (especially for books). They can do this, Thompson argues, by embracing new means of delivery that can actually promote more reading and reinvigorate our encounters with the written word. 

Clearly, current technology still has to catch up in order to realize some of the more interesting concepts, but I suspect that will happen sooner than we think (probably in the form of fully interactive, colorful, high-quality, conveniently portable e-Readers that will make today’s Kindles look like Betamax – and not leave people longing for the good ol’ paperback). And it will enable the kind of enhanced content consumption and experience of the written word that Thompson describes in his article.

This scenario is already beginning to be played out in nearly every form of media today (music, video, writing): in the creation of communities around content and in mash-ups and user-generated content that takes some impetus from the original works and, in so doing, then transforms and expands them. Those forward-looking enough, Thompson asserts, can truly “unlock the potential of the written word.” Now that’s something to be jazzed about.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Darwin’s Business

While the debate about the validity of Darwinian theory seems to have (amazingly) once again become a matter of public debate, the validity of Darwin’s concepts is playing itself out right before our eyes on a daily basis in today’s business world – not the least of which in the publishing industry. Book publishers – like newspaper and magazine companies – are subject to evolutionary challenges just like everything else.